Expanding Youth Opportunities

NLC supports and informs city leaders and stakeholders interested in improving public safety and reforming the juvenile justice system. We also provide peer learning and support to the growing number of citywide programs reconnecting young people to school.

Juvenile Justice Reform

City leaders can increase public safety and improve outcomes for young people by changing how their cities respond to youth implicated in delinquent acts or accused of crimes. When city policies end up channeling large numbers of youth into a juvenile justice system that emphasizes arrests and detention, these policies can jeopardize rather than enhance public safety and security. At the same time, when young people who come to the attention of law enforcement for low-level offenses are treated as more serious criminals, these decisions reduce the likelihood that these youth can regain their footing and greatly diminish their future prospects.

Cities can increase public safety and improve outcomes for youth by implementing strategies that hold them accountable for their actions in more effective, equitable and developmentally appropriate ways. Read more…


Student receiving diploma.

Research shows that many out-of-school youth want to return to school, but are uncertain how to do so. Helping these young people find alternative pathways to graduation – and promising futures – is a critical challenge facing city leaders today.

Fortunately, a growing number of cities are leading the way with innovative strategies that provide multiple routes to graduation. These efforts include the establishment of one-stop “reengagement centers” for high school dropouts. Reengagement centers can either operate in a physical location or virtually. Regardless of the approach, the goal of reengagement centers and programs is to provide caring, well-trained staff that help young people earn a high school diploma or GED. Read more…